Sanef and R2K lambasts SABC's suspension of journalists


The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has expressed shock over the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to suspend three of its journalists last week, who had voiced concern about not providing coverage of a protest action outside its Auckland Park offices.

On Friday, the broadcaster confirmed that Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) Executive Producer Foeta Krige, senior journalist Suna Venter and business editor Thandeka Gqubule had been placed on suspension following a disagreement over covering a demonstration by the Right2Know campaign against the banning of items allegedly portraying the country in a bad light.

The public broadcaster has been facing severe backlashes in recent months after its controversial Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, announced last month is would no longer broadcast violent protests due to it encouraging others to do the same.

Criticism against Motsoeneng however peaked last week after no footage of the violent demonstrations in Tshwane was shown on any of the broadcaster’s channels.

“Sanef urges the SABC to immediately lift the suspensions of these journalists. Journalists in a constitutional democracy have a right to express themselves freely. Sanef will write to the SABC to insist that it must respect the rights to freedom of thought and expression of journalists,” the forum said in a statement.

It has meanwhile been reported that Motsoeneng has instructed journalists not to show President Jacob Zuma in a bad light, as “he deserves a degree of respect”.

According to a weekend article by Rapport, SABC staff are also reportedly forced to listen to his rediffusion internal television system discussions twice a week, while acting CEO, Jimi Matthews, has allegedly blacklisted editors from rival publications in relation to the banning of reading newspaper headlines live.

In a statement on Friday, the Right2Know campaign said the ban only reaffirms that the SABC under Motsoeneng, can no longer be seen representing the views of the people.

“This latest purge, at a time of growing concern about the state of the broadcaster, makes it clear that Hlaudi has only contempt for those who work under him, for ethos and ethics of public broadcasting, and for the public to whom he ought to account,” the statement said.

“For far too long Hlaudi has recklessly imposed his will and undermined the public broadcaster with absolute impunity. We demand the removal of Hlaudi before he can do further damage to the SABC”.